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India wants to keep Iran oil purchases at 300,000/bpd in extended waiver – Sources

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Waiver

India has reduced its purchases of Iranian oil but has been in talks on extending its sanctions waiver, a senior India official said in January.

New Delhi is asking to be allowed to still buy Iranian oil at current levels of around 1.25 million tonnes per month or about 300,000 barrels per day, the sources said.

The U.S. re-imposed sanctions against Iran in November last year in a dispute over Tehran’s nuclear and missile ambitions after President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of a 2015 deal between Iran and six world powers.

Although the U.S. granted Iran’s biggest customers – China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece – waivers that have allowed them to continue limited imports, Washington is putting pressure on governments to eventually cut imports to zero.

The current round of waivers expires around May 4.

Vincent Campos, a spokesman at the U.S. State Department’s energy bureau, did not confirm that India was asking the United States to renew its waiver but said talks are ongoing with the eight consumers of Iran’s oil that received waivers in November with the aim of eventually cutting the imports to zero.

“We continue to have bilateral discussions,’’ with each of the countries including India, Campos said.

Iran, a member of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), exported almost three million bpd of oil at its pre-sanctions peak, but supply has dwindled to around 1.25 million bpd since the start of the year, shipping data in Refinitiv showed.

Talks with Washington on extending the waiver slowed due to the U.S. government shutdown that extended through January, one of the Indian sources said.

Talks have now resumed and India wants to get clarity before general elections scheduled in May, the source said.

No immediate comment was available from India’s oil and external affairs ministries.

India’s move to seek extended sanctions exemptions comes as Washington plans to end preferential trade treatment for India that allows duty-free entry for up to $5.6 billion worth of its exports to the U.S.

India is the biggest beneficiary of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), which dates from the 1970s, and ending its participation would be the strongest punitive action the U.S. has taken against the country since Trump took office.

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2 suspects arrested for planning to attack French president – Report

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Two men close to the ultra-right were indicted for “terrorist criminal conspiracy” and placed in pre-trial detention, as part of the investigation of a bombing project against French President Emmanuel Macron.

Franceinfo, a French domestic rolling news channel, reported this on Saturday.

The two suspects, aged 30 and 45 respectively, were believed to have planned an action against President Macron during the commemoration of the centenary of the end of the First World War, in Nov. 2018, said Franceinfo quoting a Parisian judicial source.

The two were arrested Monday in Moselle, northeastern France.

They had been presented to an examining magistrate for their indictment.

The national anti-terrorist prosecutor’s office had requested their detention on remand. (Xinhua/NAN)

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(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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Yellow Vest anniversary protests: More than 20 subway stations closed in Paris

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More than 20 subway and express train (RER) stations were shut down in Paris on Saturday morning in the run-up to protests as the yellow vest movement marks its first anniversary this weekend.

The movement plans large-scale weekend protests, including those unauthorised, across France.

“On Saturday, Nov. 6, by order of the police prefecture, starting from 7:00 a.m. (6:00 GMT), some stations/transport hubs are closed to the public in the run-up to numerous demonstrations in public places,” public transport company RATP said in a statement.

In particular, the stations near Champs-Elysees – a traditional venue for protests – will be closed.

The stations near the Eiffel Tower, the Place de la Concorde and the National Assembly will also be shut down.

The train services on metro lines 2 and 6 will be completely suspended.

In addition, more than 50 bus routes will also be affected, with the routes either shortened or changed to avoid blocked streets.

The planned time when the transport services will return to normal is not reported.

The wave of the yellow vest rallies started in France on Nov. 17, 2018.

The protests were initially triggered by the government’s intention to increase fuel taxes.

Even though the authorities abandoned the plan and introduced a set of measures to improve the socio-economic situation, protesters continue to take to the streets across France every weekend to express their wider discontent with the government’s policies. (Sputnik/NAN)
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(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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Ankara confirms it will activate Russia’s S-400s in spite of U.S. sanctions threats

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Ankara intends to activate the Russian-made S-400s despite the threat of U.S. sanctions, with only Turkish personnel planned to be involved in operating these air defense systems.

The head of the country’s Defense Industries Directorate made this known to СNN Turk after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Washington.

During talks with Erdogan on Wednesday, President Donald Trump said Turkey’s S-400 acquisition “creates some very serious challenges for us”.

He noted that the two leaders had tasked their national security advisers with working on resolving the matter.

Two days later, Turkey announced that it had begun work on a joint “mechanism” with the U.S. to evaluate a potential effect of the purchase on the country’s participation in the U.S. F-35 multirole fighter programme.

“It is illogical to buy S-400s and not use them.

“Russian personnel will not be involved in operating them, these systems do not pose a threat to NATO,” Ismail Demir said.

He added that Turkey sought to resolve the differences with the U.S. over the S-400s, reiterating that the country was ready to purchase Patriot air defense systems on favorable terms and use them along with the Russian antiaircraft weapons.

The U.S. has repeatedly objected to Ankara’s purchase of the S-400s, saying that the weapons system is incompatible with NATO security standards and might compromise the operations of the new fifth-generation F-35 fighter jets.

Washington called upon Turkey to cancel the deal with Russia and instead acquire Patriot missile defense systems from the U.S.

In July, the U.S. suspended Turkey’s participation in the F-35 programme, adding that the country would be completely removed from the project by late March 2020.

Turkey refused to abandon the deal with Russia.

However, even after the latter completed the delivery of the main batch of S-400 components, U.S. officials have still continued urging Ankara against putting the systems into operation. (Sputnik/NAN)
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(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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More than 240 IS militants, their families surrender to Afghan gov’t forces – Governor

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At least 241 militants of the Islamic State terrorist group (IS, banned in Russia) and the members of their families have surrendered to the Afghan government forces over the past three days in eastern Afghanistan.

This is contained in a statement issued by the Nangarhar provincial governor’s office.

The Afghan government army’s eastern division, known as the 201 Selab Corps, has shared photographs and videos showing a group of men, women, and children huddled together, claiming them to be IS fighters and their families who have surrendered following a campaign to find and destroy their hideouts.

“The ISIS militants have handed over 60 weapons to 201 Selab Corps, two communications radio, one hand grenade, 13 assault rifles and three motorcycles,” a statement by the brigade published on their Facebook page said.

The IS terror group announced the creation of their Afghanistan branch in 2015, when at the height of their power in Iraq and Syria.

Since then, they have seen their support dwindle but have remained a source of insecurity often outside the influence of the more powerful Taliban.

Most notably, IS claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack that killed 63 people at a wedding celebration in Kabul in August. (Sputnik/NAN)
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(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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One killed in protests against fuel rationing in Iran

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Fuel

Protests against the rationing of fuel in Iran have resulted in one death and several injuries, a spokesman for the local government in the city of Sirjan said on Saturday.

Dozens of protesters attempted to set fire to petrol stations and oil depots on Friday, spokesman Mahmud Mahmudabadi said, according to the ISNA news agency.

Police officers and members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard had to intervene, he added.

The exact circumstances of the death were unclear and under investigation, according to the spokesman, who claimed that security forces only fired their guns into the air as a warning.

Injuries were reported on both sides. Mahmudabadi did not specify whether there were any arrests, ISNA said.

Protests sprang up in other parts of Iran on Friday and Saturday, with reports that police had used tear gas in some locations to disperse demonstrators.

Footage shared on social media showed petrol stations in flames – although officials dismissed the videos as “fake news.”

As the Iranian economy falters under the strain of reimposed U.S. sanctions, the regime imposed overnight fuel-rationing measures and upped the cost of petrol

With a state-issued fuel card, Iranians can only purchase up to 60 litres of petrol per month at a price of around 13 dollar cents per litre.

Those who wish to buy more have to pay 27 cents per litre for standard or 33 cents for super – almost three times the previous rate.

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(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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Fuel shortage in Bolivian capital after protesters block access to gas plant – Minister

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Bolivia’s major central cities, which includes the capital of La Paz, have been hit with fuel shortages due to the ongoing anti-government protests, the country’s new Hydrocarbons Minister Víctor Hugo Zamora said.

The protest are coming after the resignation of former President Evo Morales and opposition senator Jeanine Anez assuming the post.

On Thursday, protesters blocked roads throughout Bolivia’s second largest city of El Alto, which neighbors the capital of La Paz and includes a crucial road to the country’s major Senkata petrol plant that supplies surrounding cities and provinces.

“There are conflicts in critical areas in (central) Chapare (province) and El Alto, which are impeding the normal supply (of petrol),” Zamora said during his first address to the press since being sworn into office by the new government on Thursday.

Gas stations, where fuel distribution has been capped at 14 litres (3.7 gallons) per vehicle, are experiencing long lines, a Sputnik correspondent found.

Concurrently La Paz, El Alto, Cochabamba, and western Oruro are facing drastic natural gas shortages, following the cutting of a pipeline that passes through the Chapare province.

The incident is currently being investigated by authorities.

Bolivia’s YPFB state-owned oil company said that it has prioritised households over enterprises to receive gas among the shortages.

Following Morales’ resignation, Bolivia has been gripped with protests.

People have been rallying against Anez’s assumption of power because despite her being next in line of succession after the resignation of several top-level officials above her, the parliamentary quorum was not reached for her election.

Protesters have blocked roads and clashed with security officers throughout Bolivia, with media reporting earlier in the day that at least five people have been killed in the confrontations.

YEE

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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